Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

Summer 7-30-2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Lenny Jennings


Wisdom is an elusive concept scholars, philosophers, theologians, and the public have sought to understand for centuries. While some features consistently define wisdom (e.g. prosocial attitudes and behaviors, social decision making/pragmatic knowledge of life, reflection/self-understanding, and dealing effectively with uncertainty; Meeks & Jeste, 2009), “there is still considerable fuzziness and debate about what exactly the construct of wisdom refers to” (Walsh, 2015, p. 278). Elsewhere, several qualitative studies identified common characteristics of master therapists, sufficient to constitute a qualitative meta analysis (e.g. distinctive clinical abilities, professional development, relational orientation, cognitive complexity, pursuit of deep self-knowledge; Jennings et al., 2016). The present study sought synthesis between these two lines of inquiry by investigating wisdom-related concepts in a qualitative meta analysis of the master therapist literature. Results identified strong overlap between wisdom and master therapist characteristics yielding four categories, 10 subcategories (themes), and two emergent themes. The four major categories were (1) Relationship, (2) Use of Self, (3) Leaning into Ambiguity, and (4) Knowledge. The two emergent themes were an insatiable hunger for learning and commitment to growth and personal and professional life experience. The author discussed implications for research, practice, and training. Humility is theorized to play an important role in wisdom and master therapist growth.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.